New Roeselare town hall opens in celebration

(26.06.2024) On Sunday 30 June, Roeselare's new town hall will be festively inaugurated. In the course of the summer, the city services will move to their new workplace, and from September the services for all citizens will start in the town hall building as well. This will end a three-year period of demolition, construction and renovation.

History linked to innovation

In 2019, the city council decided to upgrade the outdated town hall building. Along came the decision to keep the nerve centre of services and administration in the city centre.

Our design, for which we joined forces with Bressers Erfgoed, Arcadis and Atelier Arne Deruyter, came out as the winner. The contractor carrying out the works is Algemene Bouw Maes, supported by EEG for the techniques and Monument Group for the restoration. Working closely with the city of Roeselare, we provided the total makeover of the Roeselare town hall in two years.

The striking architecture with its iconic entrance gate on the Grote Markt immediately catches the eye. Where citizens entered the town hall via a side entrance on the Botermarkt for decades, they now enter via the Grote Markt - the beating heart of the city - once again. They do so through a transparent entrance between the historic Rococo town hall from 1771 and the belfry from 1923. Consequently, the address of the renovated town hall is Grote Markt 1 again, a decision with above all great symbolic value.

The historic Rococo town hall and belfry, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were renovated and integrated with an innovative and brand-new office zone. Between the historical buildings and the new construction lies the luminous atrium with its glass roof: a clever intervention that made the rear façades of the belfry and the historical town hall visible again and thus restored them to their former glory. The atrium is the central meeting area, where counters and services are set up. Marriages, honours and sessions of the College of Aldermen or City Council take place in the historic parts of the renovated complex.

The new building volume, where 300 employees and the College of Mayor and Aldermen work every day, consists of three storeys on the Zuidstraat side and five storeys on the Botermarkt side. On the Zuidstraat side, two valuable historical façades were incorporated into the whole as well. One of the eye-catchers is the courtyard garden, an extra green resting point in the city centre where everyone is free to spend time. Art integration has also been considered: an imposing work by Nick Ervinck can be admired in the atrium, while a steel gazebo by Maarten Schaubroeck proudly adorns the inner garden.

Circular demolition, ecological heating and cooling

The construction of the new town hall is a well thought-out project, with an eye to the future. Before the renovations, the town hall consisted of a jumble of outdated buildings with poor energy scores and substandard accessibility. The new building puts maximum effort into sustainability, ecology and energy efficiency.

This started as early as the circular demolition of the obsolete office zone. More than 99% of the demolition waste was reused elsewhere: stone rubble, lead, zinc, cables, steel, and so on. Over 1,800 tonnes of debris were transported by boat via the Roeselare-Leie Canal, which kept dozens of trucks off the road. More than 50 associations and schools removed furniture, radiators and lighting elements from the buildings of the old town hall.

A sustainability award winner

The heat network, combined with the use of modern insulation techniques, reduces energy costs for the town hall by around 70 per cent. It also saves 1 million litres of drinking water a year, as the building cleverly recovers rainwater for sanitation and cleaning.

All this ensures that the Roeselare town hall is on track to achieve the 'excellent' label of BREEAM, an independent and international hallmark for sustainable building. During construction, the project was already awarded the Belgian Constructian Award for best circular project and the Publica Award for Climate Responsibility. These combined efforts make it the most sustainable town hall in Flanders to date.

Curious to see the project with your own eyes? Plan your visit this Sunday, 30 June. More info on the city of Roeselare's website.

Watch the news report on Focus-WTV.